Just last week the Supreme Court took a long hard look at something called “Auer deference” and decided that it would remain the law, but with some strings attached. Kisor v Wilke, No. 18-15 (June 26, 2019). I’ve never once had the occasion to mention Auer deference in this blog or in any brief I’ve filed in disability lawsuits, but the decision could have an impact on future disability rights litigation. In this blog I’ll consider the possible impact on litigation under the Fair Housing Act. In the next I’ll look at what turns out to be the more complex possible effects on litigation under Titles II and III of the ADA. Before I explain why, I should refer anyone interested in a detailed analysis of the decision to William Goren’s blog on the subject here.* More
FHA design/build litigation
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - serial litigation, ADA - Standing, ADA FHA General, FHA design/build litigation, First Fix Then Fight, Uncategorized Tags: ADA defense, ada litigation, FHA Defense, FHA design/build litigation
A third of the reported ADA and FHA decisions in the last three weeks involved a single plaintiff, Scott Johnson. Mr. Johnson’s name is often found in this blog because he has been a fertile source of decisions on a wide range of ADA issues. As discussed below, outrage is one common response to his lawsuits.
Outside the courts my ADA news feed delivers two kinds of articles for the most part. One kind complains about serial filers and their impact on local businesses. The other complains about the lack of accessibility in public accommodations and governmental entities. Neither seems to ask the big question that I have asked for years: Can’t we find some better way to increase accessibility than wasteful private litigation? The present system is a failure, as evidenced by the fact that decades after passage of the ADA private lawsuits continue to increase in number. Nonetheless, the two sides of the serial litigation issue seem stuck on a fruitless debate about the morality of serial filing instead of trying to address the possibility of a genuinely effective system of enforcement. And with that sermon behind us, here are your tax day cases. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, Apartments, Building Codes, Design Build Discrimination, FHA design/build litigation, FHA renovation, Residential Development Tags: Design/build liability, FHA Defense, FHA experts, FHA statute of limitations
The Court’s principal holding is the obvious but often overlooked rule the various safe harbors for the design and construction of multi-family dwellings are a shield, not a sword. In Miami Valley the plaintiffs produced a typical expert report in this kind of case. It listed several hundred supposed accessibility barriers based on deviations from the original FHA Guidelines promulgated by HUD in 1991 along with the assertion that because the Guidelines are the least restrictive of the HUD recognized safe harbors the apartments did not meet any safe harbor standard. Based on this evidence the plaintiffs sought summary judgment. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - serial litigation, ADA - Standing, ADA Attorney's Fees, ADA Class Actions, ADA Internet, ADA Internet Web, ADA Litigation Procedure, ADA Mootness, ADA Web Access, FHA, FHA design/build litigation Tags: ADA defense, FHA Defense, Lyft, Ride Sharing ADA, uber
There is only one prediction that can be made with complete certainty about ADA and FHA litigation in 2019: Lawyers will continue to make money exploiting these laws for profit in the name of accessibility. The number of lawsuits continues to climb, and with Congress and regulators unwilling to do anything this exploitation will continue. However, before we face the new challenges of a new year it is time for a final look backward at the recent decisions concerning accessibility for the disabled.
Standing in website accessibility cases.
Price v. Orlando Health, Inc., 2018 WL 6434519, at *4 (M.D. Fla. Dec. 7, 2018) shows just how important theories about why the ADA covers websites can be to standing in such cases. Courts in the 11th Circuit have adopted the theory that a website is covered by the ADA only if it has a nexus to a physical public accommodation. Because this relationship is required, the ADA injury giving rise to standing must be some inability to use the physical accommodation. The plaintiff in this case had no plausible intent to use the defendant’s facilities so he could not establish an ADA injury and did not have standing to sue. This is one of many reasons there is a widening gap between the Circuits with respect to how website cases can be effectively defended. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - serial litigation, ADA Attorney's Fees, FHA, FHA design/build litigation, FHA renovation, First Fix Then Fight Tags: ADA defense, Cyber Monday, FHA Defense
That’s right, it’s Cyber Monday. Interestingly enough there have been no ADA web access decisions since my last Quick Hits blog, but there are still a few developments of interest.
The long road from an interesting partial victory to a final settlement.
I blogged about States v. Mid-America Apartment Comms., Inc., 247 F. Supp. 3d 30, 36 (D.D.C. Mar. 27, 2017) last year.* The case was interesting because the defendant got a preliminary ruling suggesting that a certificate of occupancy based on a building code that incorporated FHA standards could be a defense to a claim under 28 USC §3604(f)(3)(C) for failure to properly design and construct multi-family housing. The potential for this defense was recognized in Miami Valley Fair Hous. Ctr., Inc. v. Preferred Living Real Est. Investments, LLC, 2018 WL 4690790, at *8 (S.D. Ohio Sept. 28, 2018) but found premature in a summary judgment context. Then, on November 21 of this year the Department of Justice announced a multi-million dollar settlement with Mid-America. I was interested in what happened between the 2017 ruling and the 2018 settlement, so I reviewed the case file to see if anything of interest to other defendants might appear. More